I shoot more 38Spl. than any other centerfire handgun ammunition. It's just a great plinking round and loaded with one of the many self defense +P rounds it is a very capable weapon to contend with. I have never felt that the 38Spl. has fell behind in bullet technology as new bullets were being developed they have always been included in the 38Spl. line up. Many advanced loads have been requested and developed for major city police departments and federal law enforcement agencies. From the onset of the cartridge there has always been larger and more powerful handgun cartridges available that have never reached the popularity of the 38Spl. With it's popular to despise soft 158gr. LRN loading it makes for a great meat and hide saving small game load.
Change the bullet to a soft 158gr. LSWC or LSWC HP bullet and it can move into a capable self defense load that only gets better with advanced bullet and +P loading. In the book on handgun hunting written by Lee Juras (of Super Vel fame) and Nick Nonte Jr. There is a chapter on hunting with the 38Spl. which includes the hunting of small Whitetail deer using advanced loads of the times. Even with a hard cast SWC +P load you can cut a clean wound chanel and penitrate at the same time. 38Spl. a great load when it was developed and a greater load as time advanced it, just ask all those who shoot more 38Spl's in thier 357's than what thier guns were designed for.